iPhone App Review: WordDNA

iPhone App Review: WordDNA

May 24th, 2011 by

Word games are the foundation of my iPhone game library. Something about how they combine left-brain logic and language and right-brain creative thinking make good word games the gaming equivalent of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Paradigm Consulting has released a new word game for iOS called WordDNA. Inspired by the “DNA double-helix molecule and its four letters of life”, you must change your starting word to a completely different word one letter at a time.

How It Works

When you start a game you first give yourself a name, then choose to play with a four-, five-, or six-letter word. The goal is to completely change the word by changing each letter one at a time, being sure that you have created an actual word every step of the way. To change a letter you simply tap it, which enlarges it on the screen, then you drag your finger across the touch screen and watch the selected letter change. You tap again once you’ve arrived at your desired letter, and if you’ve formed a new word the game will advance one step down the ladder. Think of it like the way you drag your finger down the alphabet of the Contacts screen or your iPod library, except you’re dragging horizontally instead of vertically.

Pros And Cons

The game itself is extremely fun to play if you like word games. The four-letter version is very easy and good for quickly waking up your brain or killing a few minutes of time. The higher-lettered games can get very difficult and make for a wonderful challenge. You’ve probably seen a game like this before in an old-fashioned pen-and-paper puzzle book, but playing on an iOS device is much easier and more intuitive.

The app does have a couple of flaws, though.

The graphics and text on the buttons are a bit sloppy, with the words appearing off-center on the buttons themselves and the overall graphical style being too overwhelmingly colorful. I personally like my word games more subdued in tone and style, but that’s an aesthetic choice and not everyone may agree with that, so your mileage may vary.

The main problem with the game is that sometimes your starting word is not a real word at all, making it almost impossible to even play a game from time to time. Just before writing this review I played a four-letter game and my starting word was “ACBD”. I plugged in “ACAD” and it accepted that, though that’s actually an abbreviation or an acronym and not a word in itself  (at least not that I could find). Then I played a five-letter game and it started me off with “ELLGA”. I gave up immediately.


WordDNA is a great concept for a game, it’s fun to play, and the mechanic for selecting a new letter is actually quite brilliant. The app has some kinks to work out in terms of word selection, but nothing that just starting a new game won’t fix in the meantime. Hopefully the developers keep on top of the updates, because they have a good game on their hands that has the potential to develop into a great one.

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